Deciding on an OS

As stated in my previous post, Raspberry Pi is a small desktop computer. Just like any other computer you might have used, it needs an Operating System (OS) to function. If you buy a PC in the shop it will come pre-loaded with many software packages such as a media player and maybe even Microsoft Office. The most important thing it comes with however is its operating system (eg: Windows XP). The Raspberry Pi rarely comes with an OS and so we must firstly download one. There are many OS’s out there and they all preform many different functions, in this post I will talk about four different OS’s that I have played around with.

The first thing I did when I turned the Pi on was to download NOOBS. NOOBS is the most basic and easy to set up OS that is available and so it was a great starting point (it runs off of the Raspian software). The setup for NOOBS was very similar to how you would set your new laptop up and resulted at a fairly similar endpoint, a desktop with icons (as seen below). This was great however the only way to access an internet radio station using this OS was to actually search for the website that hosts the station and select it. This is a dull and laborious task that we can cut out by simply implementing a new OS.

The second OS I tried “Musicbox” is unlike NOOBS, its purpose is to act as a server not a Personal Computer. Musicbox is downloaded into the Raspberry Pi the exact same way as NOOBS however it’s set up is much different. Instead of going through a long process of deciding on languages and what nationality your keyboard is, it just asks you to log in with its pre-set password and login. The Raspberry Pi then becomes a music server that Strems music of your choice from the internet. Musicbox has another neat trick, it is controlled via an external device as long as said device is connected to the same IP address. So I can control the music that the Pi is playing, from my IPhone, in another room. I love this feature however I would very much like to operate the radio from its own screen. This involves creating a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for the Musicbox.  After a lot of trial and error I realised that the Musicbox OS is not GUI compatible. This meant that the controlling interface for the device would need to be external. An example of the external display can be seen below.

From my trials with Musicbox I learned that a music streaming server was the way to go. This brought me onto Volumio, an OS that operates much like Musicbox but we understood that it may be able to house an interface. This trial was short and sweet, I quickly realised that this system too, was unable to display the interface I wished. As can be seen below the Raspberry Pi can be developed to display a LCD feedback, however you are still unable to display the actual Volumio interface (seen behind the Raspberry Pi image)  After talking the process through with my team mate Sylvester and technician Ali, we decided that the next step was to attempt build our own OS.

This process was short lived as we quickly realised that we did not have enough time or knowledge of MPD (Music Player Deamon) make this venture a reality. The process was however valuable as the amount of knowledge gained will surely be beneficial in the future.

Finlay we realised that we could implement our two favoured Operating systems together. We now plan on using Musicbox as our music steaming server as well as using Raspian as the Interface component. This process involves us using two Raspberry Pis together, resulting in the system being slightly more responsive as an extra bonus.

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